An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Finally ... A Post

It's March 28th, and I've spent the afternoon wandering the back woods with the kids watching the goats graze on green grass. I am wondering if the last two round bales will be enough to get us through until the pastures alone can sustain the animals. I have already fertilized the fruit trees and the berry bushes, and have questioned Rob about the lawn mower status. I remind myself ... it is March 28th, not May 28th.

What a strange winter we have had. Not that I am complaining or anything, I really could get used to this warm weather and little snow.

Sorry to those who have checked in on me to mention that I haven't been blogging. I guess I just ran out of words to say. There seems to be a depth of pain that there are no words for: not for comfort, or peace, or even for prayers.

It seems as if this past year has hit me all at once, and I am exhausted by being on display. My Mom was right the other day when she pointed out that we must feel like we are wearing a scarlet letter every time we go out in public; as Grandma, she feels it too. After a year I don't know how to answer the "How are you doing?" question anymore, and honestly, I think people don't quite know what to do with how I am doing. I am tired of missing my son. I am tired of grieving. I am tired of the pain. I am tired of the tears. I am tired of making everybody else cry. So I smile at them, and I stay home, and I wander the woods with my kids and my goats.

I read the other day that in the second year of grief you enter a stage where you respond by either fight, flight or freeze. I have tried to avoid a whole lot of grief advice, but this resonated with where I am.

Grace has been praying for my joy to come back. It's been a tall order lately. I have overwhelmed myself with busyness these past few weeks rather than looking intently for the majestic God behind all of this. Her ten-year-old questions stirred in me some of my own again. She was so relieved to hear that we will have clothes to wear in heaven, and that we won't just be standing around singing for eternity. We wondered aloud together what Trent was doing right now without a body, we laughed about how he always did want to be first at everything, we talked about Jesus' horse and if He would let us ride it when we got there, and we tried to envision just what God would look like. We were pretty sure that He wouldn't even come close to resembling a squid, and were both glad for it. Probably no hairy arms either, but being I can't begin to fathom His glory, I had no further offer of how to explain Him in a way that would do justice.

Loving these kids this deep is so hard. My heart wants to protect itself from hurting anymore.

The loss of Trent threatens to crush me. I fight, flee, or freeze in various forms.

Watching Micah read this past week has amazed me. I wonder how my baby is nearly done with first grade. I wonder when he learned /sh/ and that periods mean to stop. Home school has been survival of the fittest around here this past year. It has also been a saving structure to fill our days. Somehow everybody is thriving, even though we haven't done many extra's. Everybody is reading', ritin', and doing 'rithmetic, and the Bible is a daily standard, as well as bedtime prayers and talking with Dad at night. What a legacy this man is leaving to his children: the son of alcoholic parents, saved by grace, raising his children for the glory of God.

Another twelve year old boy has me taking second glances. For an instant I want to replace him in my mind and pretend that he is his brother walking by as he grows into the same lanky form and wears the same shade of t-shirt. But I don't allow myself to go there. I force myself back to reality. I look again for God's good plans. I look forward to eternity. I pray that they'll all be there; all my kids, God. I pray that they'll all know Jesus as their Savior. A day doesn't go by that my heart isn't pleading for their souls; barely hours go by without the pleas being on my lips.

I have begun building again. It dawned on me the other day that Trent is enjoying heaven without us. I picked up my hammer and swung harder. Lord willing, by the time the mosquitoes come out in full force there will be a recycled screen porch in the flower garden. It's even fairly level, and it passed Rob's inspection. We've had many opportunities already to sit in it and giggle and fight over laps, even without a roof or screen, so I anticipate it will be well worth the effort.

Isaiah 30:15 says that in repentance and rest is my salvation, in quietness and trust is my strength. In this season of quietness I am learning to trust. In my weakness I am learning about God's strength. I continue to rest, and I realize that God already knows my heart; there is no need for forcing eloquent words. As much as I have never wanted to learn perseverance, I am coming to terms with the fact that I probably have a long, long way to go. And, like Steven Curtis Chapman has recently penned, it's just a long way home.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Again, and Again, and Again

One young girl, a spelling book, and a pencil. Simple tools and a simple lesson as we start our schooling again. She's writing the word families for the short vowel /a/, in cursive, around her traced hands. I thought it sounded like fun; funner than just writing them in straight lines.

But her response? "I hate this!"

"Then do it again," I snap back, and not very graciously I might add.

It wasn't so much her response that bothered me, it was mine. Because it is exactly what I've been saying lately, "I hate this, God."

Sometimes He snaps back, although more gracious than I did: "Then do it again."

Again . . . round and round and round . . . I practice the Word's that are written on my heart: salvation, sovereignty, sanctification, Jesus, eternity.

But I want Him to make it all go away now.

I don't want Him to be the One who knows what's best. I don't want to practice trusting Him again. I don't want to be weak, and sad, and helpless and unknowing and patient. I don't want to learn new skills of endurance and perseverance. I really just want the pony rides, I only want the cotton candy. I don't want to rise above this some days; I want to go back and sulk in my bed.

But we are not of those who shrink back.

So I do it again.

I have a feeling I'll be doing it until that eternity comes: practicing being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer as I wait for my Savior to fully reveal His glory.

Friday, March 23, 2012


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

I guess, then, there is a season to be quiet. Quiet. An odd concept in our culture. A time to lay on a bench, in the middle of the woods, alone, being quiet and waiting to hear the voice of God.

Quiet enough to hear the squirrels and the chipmunks rattle the leaves; quiet enough to hear the flapping of the wings of a flock of Sand Hill cranes; quiet enough to hear the mosquitoes buzzing in March, and quiet enough to hear God whisper, "Just trust me."

This is what the Lord says," In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:15

I walked through the woods, and proclaimed my trust. I cried the tears, and proclaimed my trust. I accepted the gifts and the prayers, and proclaimed my trust. I gave up my plans, and proclaimed my trust.

I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. Ezekiel 13:14

Pain has a way of laying flat the flimsy walls that we build. Grief batters against the soul again and again, challenging the construction of who we have built God to be; this God that sits enthroned in His glory as we struggle along in our flesh.

He will accept nothing less than to have His children acknowledge who He really is. He will continue the refining until all falsehood is removed.

The tearing down process is exhausting. God strips us bare of any false beliefs until only the foundation is left, the true foundation of His character as laid out in Scripture.

And then the rebuilding can begin.

The call to read the words in the book of Ezekiel 5-15 this morning came as an answer to many prayers: prayers for a glimpse of God's glory, prayers for sustainence, prayers for my will to be truly yielded to God's will.

But Ezekiel wasn't what I was expecting. I was expecting visions of heaven, the great hope of a gracious God, gentle leading by a kind Savior. Not my own sins revealed through the lives of the Isrealite's. Not a humbling of who I am. Not the acknowledgment that I really don't understand just who God is and what He's doing, let alone trying to define eternity and the glory to be revealed.

How do you wrap your brain around the concept of death?

I look at old pictures and see physical evidence of my son. Yet, he's not here anymore.

Theology tends to get twisted and warped as we walk the hard roads of suffering, and our once rock-solid doctrines can begin to take on a form of their own. Eternity seems to be no closer than it was yesterday, if it really ever will begin. God's glory has no definition that the brain can comprehend. And Heaven? It tends to evaporate into an unattainable destination that seems somedays like it may never come.

But it does come; it has come. The reality is too raw many days. But how? Where? Why?

This God, who's thoughts are higher than our thoughts as far as the earth is from the sky, this God that refuses to be put inside our pretty little boxes, has a way of destroying our flimsy white washed walls.

The foundation is laid bare through suffering so that all will be built on His truth, for His glory.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Double Dare

It's interesting when you pray and ask God a specific request, and He answers you immediately, in exact response to your heart's desperate plea. On my knee's the other morning, I had asked God that I might be brave enough to continue to draw near to Him, to dare to let the shadows of His glory land upon my mortal frame, to find protection in His sovereignty, rather than run from the very presence of His holiness and majesty. Sometimes, though, Truth is too much and we seek our solace in lesser things than the Creator of the Universe. When we become dissatisfied, we return to Him. I don't want to seek the lesser things. In the depths of my soul I want God to be first; I want my eyes on the cross and Jesus and eternity; I want the fulfillment found only in God. But I stray; so easily I stray. As I rose from this humble position, I walked past the book shelf on my way to start the day and paused long enough to catch the title of a book that has sat there for years, probably bought for a dime at some long-forgotten garage sale for "such a time as this." The title: Daring to Draw Near, by John White.

I cry out along with Hannah: If you give me a son, Lord, I will commit him back to you. I have the peace like Hannah: God's plan for my son's life is perfect. I trust this God, and His plans.


It dawned on me this afternoon, as I was sitting on the swing in the flower garden, actually feeling joy and peace, that there is no reason to feel guilty over enjoying things here because, as my grief riddled brain came to process is, Trent is enjoying heaven there without me. God's grace is enough to enjoy what He gives here, somehow even enough to enjoy it without a son. And, as Rob and I were talking last night, it's not that he's lost; we know where he is, we just have to wait until it's our turn to get there.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Would somebody please claim this little pooch before I become convinced that we need two labs sleeping on the couch at our house? We're all a bit smitten by the goofy little guy . . . well, all except for the guy who has to pay for the dog food that is.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Insanity


It just has a way of keepin' on, even if you can't keep up with it.

It has been crazy busy around here lately. A birthday and an anniversary and purposely scheduled craziness might have something to do with it, but still .... crazy busy.

Five of the six poodle-pie puppies have found new homes, which means that I have five less poodle-pie puppy messes to clean up every morning. Grace has gone from one puppy to the other making them her favorites as they all leave: first D-O-G (said phonetically, Deogie) and Licorice left, then Cheesenout, and Rosie, and yesterday Chocolate, leaving behind little Boaz who is doing his best job to convince us that we do need a goofy little yellow lab. Sigh .... Rob is doing his best to stand his ground amongst all of us animal lovers.

The farm is busy, too, with six milking does now. Martha delivered last week~ another buckling. We have decided that next year must be our doe year as we are over run with bucks right now. This new guy brings the total up to 6 bucks and 2 does. Micah donned him "Stripey" as the rest of us were all pretty much named out. Lord willing, pictures to come as soon as I can spare a hand to carry the camera down to the barn amongst the three calf bottles, water jugs, egg basket and milking supplies.

Yes, we also got our bottle calves. It is more of a "going through the motions" event this year with little to no fan-fare over the black and white buggers. Again, Lord willing, pictures to come soon, and I'll try to write a detailed post of how we raise them on goats milk in the near future.

And then there are the chickens: our egg laying girls have been loving the sunshine and have been laying us lots of farm fresh eggs. In an attempt to get back on track with actually farming we have been recording eggs again. In the last ten days of February we brought in 74 eggs from 16 hens. Good job girls!

Our pullet chicks are doing great, and there are some very happy Craigslist people who bought several over the weekend. We still have some little ones in the basement waiting to graduate to the big outside coop, and some more six week old pullets waiting for homes if anybody needs them. Overall the chicken business is good for so early in the spring.

The weather has been crazy, too. We had the biggest snowstorm of the season a couple of weeks ago, and in the past two days it has been so warm that all the snow has melted. The kids dug out the shorts and flip-flops today and even took out the duck boat on the pond to celebrate.

I bought roses. This, in itself, was a significant event because it's one of those things that we used to do when Trent was here. As a reward for making it through Aldi's with two overflowing shopping carts, we would take turns picking out bouquets. When Grace saw the flower displays last week on our grocery shopping trip she asked if she could pick some out .... I woke up from my stupor enough to say yes.

Insane is how I have felt lately. If somebody would just find me a straight jacket in a cute brown and pink pattern I could be content sitting in a padded room rocking back and forth. And then don't wake me up until it's my turn to go to heaven.

The crying doesn't seem to do any good, so I have opted for the insanity behind curtain number three these days. I mean, really, how else does one wrap their brain around the fact that their son is not here? Thoughts of God and His glory and heaven consume me unrelentingly. And for the millionth time I ask: How do you go on living here? What do you live for? When you know that this is all temporary, what is worth investing in?

It's worse than having to cook three meals a day only to have it all eaten in moments and then have to wash the dishes three times a day only to get up and know you have to do it do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day.

Oh~ and the tiny push that sent me cascading into the insanity mode: somebody stole Trent's identity and claimed him on their taxes. Yes, we were informed that we would have to paper file our taxes and prove to the government that our dead son was really our dead son rather than somebody else's dead son who was claiming that our dead son was their dead son. Uh-huh. Now you see why that cute little straight jacket might not be so bad? Who would even think up these things?

So, I humour myself with barn chores twice a day: feed the calves, feed the goats, feed the chicks, feed the calves, feed the goats, feed the chicks. It's cheap therapy.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


But I am the Lord your God...

I cared for you in the desert,

in the land of burning heat.

When I fed them, they were satisfied;

when they were satisfied,

they became proud;

then they forgot me.

Hosea 13:4a-6

Fourteen years ago a son was brought forth from my womb. This morning I am again recalling that day. I remember the pain and the contractions on top of contractions caused by the induction medicine that was administered because he was thought to be several days overdue. I remember the nurses, and the doctor who insisted that I would labor eight hours longer than I did. I remember my mother's hands braiding my hair in an attempt to soothe the pain that was so necessary.

I remember the nurses taking him from my breast shortly after he was born to administer oxygen, a foreshadowing of his life perhaps. I remember my husband stealing him back, refusing to be separated from his firstborn son.

I remember the struggle to feed him from my body over the next several months, and to draw near to him for fear of my intense love that seemed like too much. I remember the battles over his little soul in the years to come. I remember the day of his salvation, the acknowledgement of a Savior's grace, the hope of eternity in the presence of a holy God.

I remember counting his toes again on that hospital bed in the emergency room the day he died, just like the day he was born: one, two, three, all the way to ten. I remember God's grace when He gave and when He took away. This same God, who cared for the Israelites in the desert, who cared that a twelve year old boy needed a Savior, who knows the sound of a mother's falling tears, who promises to care for His children.

I find this pain to be a driving force that pushes me closer to Him, not away, lest I be satisfied here, in the temporary, becoming proud and comfortable and ultimately forgetting my God. This beckoning found through suffering, the hurt that penetrates so deep, is an offer to draw near to the Almighty.

I could barely get to the praise for a son in heaven this birthday morning; I could barely get past the pain. And then came God. Then came the words of Scripture from the Sovereign One who intends to carry me all the way until I see His face. I can't see the eternal worth of this suffering right now, but the God who called me to this trial continues to prove over and over again that He is faithful. He cares for me in the desert; in Him will I be satisfied.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mud Pies and Glory

Jesus hears your every expression of grief . . .

He knows the sound of your falling tears.

Rev. Tim Wesemann,

"Grieving with Hope, Leaning on Jesus."

Sorry to say it, but most of the grief books or articles that we have been given this past year really haven't been of much use (except for this one quoted which was given to us by a new friend who has literally been in our place.) Most of those books contain very worldly advice, wrapped in pretty Christian packages. Of the one's that I have read so far, none of them seem to be indicating that we should be finding our joy in God's sovereignty as we trust Him in our sorrow, or that heaven really is the goal for the believer. Almost all of them seem to be pointing to the "graduation" from grief, which is accomplished when one learns how to live again without your loved one.

In other words: somehow let's all attempt to make death normal and accept it, rather than seeing beyond it into eternity, especially our very own eternal destinations, and the great big God that is behind everything. We'll all link arms and pretend with each other that death is "normal."

Death should really be a flashing neon sign that screams at us to wake up. It is reminding us again that all is not right with the world; death is the epitome of sin itself. As John Piper says: "It is a great sadness when sufferers seek relief by sparing God His sovereignty over pain." As I've repeatedly said: "My problem isn't with the God who ordained my son's death, it is with my reaction to it."

As His children, do we delight in God? Like Job*, do we trust Him in the good and the bad? Really trust Him?

I read the other day that the great apostle Paul lived for two days: this day, and that day. Scripture is full of the phrase "in that day," referencing to the day that Jesus will return. This struck me, because it so simply sums up my unanswered question from all these months: "How do I live now?"

I guess I live today making every attempt to be obedient and to draw nearer to Jesus because God has me here today so therefor He has a purpose in it. But at the same time I live for "that day," anxiously looking for it and longing for it.

These days are short; eternity is long.

Somehow I try to equate new calves and peeping chicks as having much meaning in light of God's glory. So much of my effort seems futile when I am only pouring it into my earthly kingdom. I can't figure out how to balance the seemingly meaningless things we are all accustomed to pursuing in light of the reality of eternity; especially an eternity with promised rewards* from an in-exhaustive Heavenly Father.

The kids and I were talking about those rewards the other day. I asked them what they thought the rewards would be: chocolate, gold, toys, chickens. We could all only guess. Jesus Himself offered them; rewards for eternity for all those things done in His name.

Then why do I invest in the temporary?

The kids were fighting over a certain colored cup the other day. Our cupboards are overflowing with every type of mix-matched cup imaginable thanks to a certain Uncle Jim, and yet this one single cup they both had to have. I not-so-graciously flipped out. It's a cup! Give them the cup! Are you telling me that you wouldn't give up one lousy plastic cup in exchange for eternal rewards? Go further~ fill it up with water*, hand it to your sister . . . Jesus promised eternal rewards beyond what we can even imagine for such a meaningless action. Yeesh.

And then I do the same thing.

The physical is so tempting. But I want the cup, the house, the jeans, the hair-do, the goat. I want it here. I want it now. I don't want to wait for what's better. I can't see it, therefor it's hard to believe it.

But if we believe in Jesus only for this lifetime we are to be pitied more than all men*. He said to look for "that day" when His glory would be revealed in it's fullness. Those who hold out the Word of God will shine like the stars in the universe, Scripture says*. Do you think He's kidding? I bet Trent would tell us otherwise. I think had he known, if any of us really knew, we would have handed over the cup.

What if we lived like God wasn't kidding?

What if believers lived for Him; lived for eternity, looking for His glory to be revealed in it's tiniest form here as we believe and trust Him and live by and proclaim His Word through our actions and obedience? What if He's not kidding and it's too late to realize it until we get there? Has He not warned us, or been patient enough, or been kind enough?

Like C. S. Lewis said:“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

What if we weren't so easily pleased by the world's offer of mud pie's, but rather looked up to this amazing God who created the sea's and so much more?

How do you do that?

I don't have the magic answer. I do know it involves alot of prayer, Scripture, an intentional drawing nearer to this God, repentance, and trust*. It's time for evening chores . . . so if I ever figure it all out, I'll let ya know.

*Job 1:21; Matthew 10:42;1 Corinthians 15:9; Revelation 20:12; Philippians 2:14-16; Hebrews 10:19-27

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Truth of it All

I've forgotten how much I miss Trent. I miss him intensely all the time; I live with the dull ache of missing him every day, but on some level I have gotten used to what it feels like to miss him. But today, looking through old pictures for a certain horse one ... he was there, everywhere. I miss him. I miss who he was: my Trent. I just miss him; I miss his smile, his laugh, his presence in our family. I miss his being near, his being at the table for supper, his being in his bed when I walk upstairs heading to my own. I feel a resolve to wait and trust God until eternity begins to see him again; but then I see his pictures and am reminded all over again how hard this really is. The glory that will be revealed on "that day" must be enormous to have to endure this now. All I have to do is wait, and trust, and somehow live each day inbetween now and then. I don't want to learn to live without him. I would rather live with the pain of missing him than learn to live without him. My brain can't fathom really living with him gone. I will go on, albeit half-heartedly, in this world; ultimately only living for the next one.

Farm Stuff

Oh, that's right . . . we are farmers. As Grace has been praying so often for me lately, I am trying to find my joy again. Farming has been more therapy than joy this past year: a good reason to get my sorry self out of the house and do something constructive. All my well laid out plans for worldly success has ceased to be enough, and I have just been in survival mode. Rob and I have committed to no major life changes (we've been very tempted, but have stayed the course) at this point, knowing that grief does crazy things to you. So I continue to fight to find my joy in what used to bring great joy: kids, horses, goats, simply living. These cute little critters have helped lately. I'm slowly remembering why we dared to attempt to make this dream come true five years ago.
We now have seven surviving goat kid's: 5 bucklings and 2 doelings. Cole and I have started milking five does in the mornings and are getting a measly gallon-and-a-quarter a day. If we had been better farmers and started milking right away the girls would have been doubling that amount ... Yeesh! I'm surprised the earth hasn't opened right up and swallowed me for all the grumbling I've been doing around here lately. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Grumble that the coffee doesn't taste good, grumble that the puppies bark all night, grumble that I have four kids and an old farmhouse in the middle of a long {unbelievably easy, nearly tropical} Wisconsin winter. Finding myself on my backside looking up at the evening sky after slipping on the ice helped changed the grumbling into thankfulness for not having a broken leg last night. 1,000 blessings here I come.

One first-timer doe is due this weekend: Jacob's first offspring~ I can't wait! Actually, I forgot about the poor little doe being due, as she is the only one expecting this month (unless, of course, I miscalculated the other two first-timer doe's due dates, which is very possible.) If all goes well, and Lord willing, we will hope to add three Holstein bottle-calves to the farm next week. They will be raised off of goats milk, and unless milk production increases dramatically, some supplement milk-replacer.

Chickens ... now that's where the farm money is.
Our first batch of 100 chicks have graduated out of the basement and into Cole's chicken coop with a heat lamp, leaving the newest 100 little chicks in the basement to get off to a good start.
These chicks will all be raised for resale (except for a few replacement hens for us) as egg layers, unless of course Rob's nightmare comes true and we become the next "Egg and I" story with 600 chickens this summer. Poor man to have to live with a woman who's dreams consist of critters, and more critters.